Red Wings grad called up for final game of season
It was the call Peter LeBlanc had been anticipating the last four years.
The 26-year-old Hamilton Red Wings and Hamilton Reps grad was finally able to strap on his skates in the National Hockey League.
“It was unreal,” said LeBlanc who was called up from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League to play in the final game of the season with NHL parent club Washington Capitals. “It’s something I’ve thought about since I was a little kid.”
LeBlanc said he got a call at 10:15 p.m. on April 11 from Bears general manager Doug Yingst telling him to get toWashington.
The call also came as a bit of a surprise as LeBlanc had recently missed four games with the Bears due to the flu.
LeBlanc said he left Hershey at 6 a.m. the next day and made the two-and-a-half hour drive toWashingtonin time to take part in the optional morning practice.
“It helped my nerves being out there,” he said.
On Sunday night (April 13) against the Tampa Bay Lightning he played a regular shift and even had a scoring chance or two.
“I felt really good out there,” LeBlanc said. “(Capitals head coach Adam Oates) told me I did a great job.”
LeBlanc said the on-ice action inWashington was similar to play in the AHL although everything is broken down and analyzed much more closely in the NHL.
Since the Bears also did not make the playoffs, this pro hockey season has essentially ended for LeBlanc.
Now in the final year of his contract with Hershey, where he’ll play next season remains undetermined.
“It kinds of all depends on what they offer me,” said LeBlanc, who scored 12 goals and 16 assists in 65 games with Hershey this season.
Over four seasons in the AHL, including two-and-a-half seasons with the Rockford IceHogs, the Universityof New Hampshire graduate has netted 60 goals and added 72 assists for 132 points in 261 games.
With a full game in the NHL on his resume, LeBlanc expects to return to Hamilton in the coming weeks and play in the four-on-four league at the Mohawk 4 Ice Centre again this summer.